JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY HAS DRAWN NEARLY 20 MILLION TO ROME
The Holy See Press Office Thursday morning held a press conference featuring Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, who presented the final major celebrations associated with the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Vatican: the Jubilee for Prisoners on November 5 and 6; and the Jubilee for the Socially Excluded from November 11 to 13.
Each particular Jubilee will culminate with Mass.
The Jubilee for Prisoners will involve a contingent of persons currently serving penal sentences in Spain, along with persons of several different nationalities currently incarcerated in Italy, as well as hundreds of people either released on parole or who have served their sentences and are working to rejoin society. Over 1,000 people currently serving time or who have served time in prison are expected to take part in the Jubilee in Rome, according to official estimates from the Council for New Evangelization.
On Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to confess in the Jubilee churches and make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Mass with the Holy Father is scheduled to begin at 10 AM on Sunday, following an hour-long series of testimonies given by four people whose lives have been changed through the experience of crime and punishment: a prisoner who has experienced conversion, who will speak with the victim with whom he is reconciled; the brother of a victim of a deadly crime who has become the instrument of mercy and forgiveness; a minor who is serving his sentence; and an agent of the Penitentiary Police, who has daily contact with inmates.
“We will listen to their life experience,” explained Archbishop Fisichella, “and we will understand that the theme of mercy is not a theoretical word, but a genuine daily action that often represents a real existential challenge.”
The following weekend, starting Friday. November 11 and concluding Sunday the 13th, the Church will mark the Jubilee of Socially Excluded Persons. This includes anyone and everyone who, for reasons ranging from economic precariousness to disease, loneliness or lack of family ties, have difficulties and often remain at the margins of society, without a home or a place to live.
“People,” said Archbishop Fisichella, “we meet every day, people our eyes do not want to see, and from whom we look away.”
Approximately 6,000 participants from different countries are expected: France, Germany, Portugal, England, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Switzerland. The organization started by the French organization Lazare, founded by Etienne Villemain.
Participants will have an intense Jubilee program: Friday at 11:30 AM in the Paul VI Hall, they are scheduled to meet Pope Francis, who will listen to some of their testimonies and at the end will meet with them. There will be opportunities to hear testimony on Saturday at 10 AM in the following churches: San Salvatore in Lauro for the English language; Santa Monica for Dutch, St. Louis of France for Portuguese; XII Apostles for French; St. John the Baptist of the Florentines for Polish; Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) for German; Santa Maria sopra Minerva for Italian; Sant’Andrea della Valle for Spanish and Santa Maria Maddalena in the Campus Martius for Slovak.
Saturday afternoon at 5, there will be a Vigil of Mercy in the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, preceded by a brief pilgrimage to the Basilica’s Holy Door, starting from the front gardens.
On Sunday, the Holy Father will preside at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 AM, following which he will lead all the faithful in the recitation of the Angelus prayer.
Sunday, November 13 will mark the closing of the Doors of Mercy in all churches and shrines throughout the world, including those of the three papal basilicas: St. Paul’s Outside the Walls at 5 PM; St. John Lateran at 5:30 PM and Saint Mary Major 6 PM.
“We are confident,” concluded Archbishop Fisichella, “that these two Jubilee events will be experienced with the same intensity and experience of prayer with which we have seen the entire Jubilee celebrated.” (JFL: end of Year of Faith)
That enthusiasm was on display October 22nd when an extraordinary crowd of 93,000 people participated in the extraordinary Jubilee audience held once each month on a Saturday during the Jubilee Year. The archbishop said that was the highest number yet for a Jubilee audience.
The Jubilee of Mercy official website – http://www.im.va – estimates that 19,797,652 people have participated in the Jubilee in Rome through the end of October. (Vatican Radio)